Rs.10.8 crore fine imposed on telecom companies
Having been found guilty of exceeding radiation limits set by the government in 2012, telcos like Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Reliance and other major companies in India have been fined large amounts. The penalty for violation of EMF radiation limits is Rs.10 lakh per base tower station found in violation of norms, per incidence. The total amount to be collected in fines is Rs.10.8 crore.
Cell towers that hold antennas and other communications equipment fill their surroundings with microwaves to support the use of cellphones, wi-fi, bluetooth supported devices, and more.These radiations can impact humans, animals and affect the ecological balance.
Radiation limits in India are actually much lower than prescribed limits set by the International Commission on Non Ionising Radiation Protection(ICNIRP), according to what a commitee constituted by the Department of Telecommunications said. The electromagnetic radiation from cell towers in India should therefore not cause any alarm with regard to biological consequences, said the report that the committee submitted in 2012.
However, one of the panelists from IIT-Bombay, Professor Kumar, argued that EMF radiation could cause cancer, brain tumour etc for those living within a 50-300m radius of cell towers. Kumar presented a case study where 6 cancer cases were reported in a building facing an antenna, The committee said however, that there was no conclusive evidence to prove his claims and needed more research.
Following the lead of other countries, who have reduced their EMF limits below those specified by the ICNIRP, India has reduced theirs by a factor of ten, which makes it a little bit lower than many other countries.
WHO asked India to participate in its EMF projects, in order to clear some of the confusion that exists in the country over EMF radiation effects. The government's silence on the issue has caused public concern. The former Head of the EMF Task Force at WHO suggested the creation of a committee, which would discuss how to deal with EMF health-related concerns and issues.
The Environment Ministry of India was asked by a parliamentary panel to look into the possible harmful effects of cell tower radiation. The committee on Demand for Grants suggested the creation of a mechanism that would raise awareness on the issue and whose recommendations would be implemented immediately. This concern came after the American Cancer Society supported the possibility that EMF could cause cancer.
Telecom companies in India stated that cell tower radiation was not harmful because they were well within the strict safety norms and said that fears were misplaced. Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) argued that these false concerns could adversely affect the government's Digital India dream. Digitalising India would require cell towers, and without the permission to build more towers, infrastructure would not improve.